By Pravin Jeyaraj
The death rate from Covid is particular stark amongst male insecure workers, at 51 per 100,000 people aged 20-64, compared to 24 per 100,000 people in less insecure occupations. However, even for female insecure workers, the mortality rate was 25 per 100,000 people, compared to 13 per 100,000 in less insecure occupations.
In addition to a greater likelihood of being on the frontline against Covid, the higher mortality rate amongst precarious workers has been driven by the reality that they are only paid if they work. No work, even if they are sick, means not being able to pay bills. Statutory sick pay is too low to to make up for the income lost from not working and many insecure workers may not even be eligible for it.
According to a poll conducted by BritainThinks for the TUC, 67% of insecure workers said they receive no sick pay at all, compared to 7% of those in secure work.
We agree with the TUC's assessment that many employers are encouraged treat insecure workers as "disposable labour" due to the lack of employment rights. Of the zero hours workers who have contacted us in the past 12 months or so, the vast majority have complained about simply seeing their work disappear without being furloughed. We have seen examples of good employers who have furloughed zero hours and casual workers. Yet, other employers have simply pointed to the lack of any contractual obligation to pay zero hours workers for not working. After all, if an employer doesn't have to pay staff, why would they, especially when they are unable to open as usual.
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Images can be downloaded from here. Image of Julian Richer should be credited to Gerardo Jaconelli.